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Monday, July 12, 2010

11 Bold Predictions for 2010

I'm still on my honeymoon for the next few days, but I had a VERY long flight to get here, so I took some of that time to write up a few predictions for 2010.

Since I'm leaving in a week, I figure I don't have to be too accountable for my prognosticating anyway, so with that in mind, here are 11 things I'm guessing will come true in the 2010 season...

1.) Justin Houston and Cornelius Washington will combine for at least 20 sacks.


The two combined for 11.5 last season, which is a decent enough number. But remember: Houston missed three games, Washington wasn't a starter, and both were playing defensive end in Willie Martinez's less blitz-happy scheme. This season, things will be much different. Both Houston and C-Wash will be full-time starters at outside linebacker, where the lack of depth also means they'll be on the field often. Add to that the notion that Todd Grantham wants to send his rushers after the QB as much as possible, and perhaps setting the bar at 20 might be a bit low.

2.) Aaron Murray will not match any of Joe Cox's major stats from 2009.


Few fans -- at least for the near future -- are likely to remember the Joe Cox Era as a fond one, but what's often overlooked is just how impressive many of his stats were. Cox completed nearly 56 percent of his passes, threw for nearly 2,600 yards and tossed 24 touchdowns last season. But that wasn't necessarily a good thing. His 332 passing attempts were far more than most fans would have liked, and way too much of the offense's success and failure rested on Cox's arm.

This year, Murray isn't likely to approach Cox's passing numbers (although the completion percentage might be a reasonable goal) but that also means Murray will be carrying less of the load on offense -- which is a good thing. It also should mean that Murray won't approach another of Cox's stats from last season: 15 INTs.

3.) The pass D will be much better, but the run D will be a question mark.

I love what Scott Lakatos is doing with the secondary, and I love the talent that Georgia will have in the defensive backfield, so while there will be three new starters on the field in 2010, I don't see it as a problem. Up at the line of scrimmage, however, things could get trickier.

While the D was widely criticized throughout the past two years, it's easy to forget that Georgia was actually fairly stout against the run. The Dawgs finished third in the SEC against the run last season, allowing just 3.42 ypc, and no individual rusher topped 100 yards against them. But now Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins and Kade Weston are all gone, meaning major changes on the D line. Abry Jones should have a strong year, but his strength is more as a rusher than a run stuffer, and DeAngelo Tyson -- the current leader in the race for starting nose tackle -- is undersized for the position. Add to that an aggressive defensive style in the new 3-4, the ongoing learning curve for the linebackers (particularly the MLBs), the memories of last year's failures by defensive players to adjust on the fly and the loss of Rennie Curran, the team's best tackling LB… and it all adds up to what could very well be the Bulldogs' big bug-a-boo on D in 2010 -- lots of yards allowed on the ground.

4.) The turnover ratio will be in the Dawgs' favor this year.

Last year Georgia finished the season at minus-16 in turnover margin, which wasn't just bad -- it approached historically awful. But virtually everything was going against the Bulldogs last year. Cox threw too often. The defense was passive. Heck, the D couldn't even pick up a fumble to save its life -- something Richt attributed a bit too often to "luck" but I'm not so sure there wasn't more to it than that.

This season, however, Murray should be throwing less, and Lakatos will have his DBs going after takeaways in the secondary. And while luck (and a simple regression to the mean) should help Georgia find a few more loose balls in 2010, something tells me Grantham will be in his guys' ears talking to them about how to make their own luck, too.

5.) Georgia will beat both South Carolina and Arkansas.

Most fans have these two early season games circles as potential losses, and for good reason. Both South Carolina and Arkansas played Georgia close last year, and both teams appear to be improved this year. Add to that the notion that Murray will still be getting his feet wet and the D will still be getting the hang of the 3-4, and the potential for disaster seems high.

But… neither of these teams runs the ball well, and as I wrote, I think it'll be the run D where Georgia has problems early on. And neither team was particularly stout on D last season, particularly against the run. South Carolina allowed 16 rushing TDs in 2009, while Arkansas allowed opposing rushers nearly 4 yards per carry. That means UGA has a good chance to run Caleb King and Washaun Ealey early and often, build a time-of-possession advantage that keeps the D off the field and, ideally, Mike Bobo only needs to ask Aaron Murray to manage the game and not make mistakes. I see a 3-0 start to 2010 and expectations getting raised quickly...

6.) Georgia will struggle with Mississippi State and Kentucky.


While I think the Dawgs can get by those early tests, it wouldn't surprise me if they struggled in a couple of games most fans expect them to win. Their trip to Mississippi State could turn out to be every bit the test that Murray's first road game in Columbia was, but against the Western Bulldogs, Murray will have less time to prepare and heavier expectations on his shoulders. Mississippi State is an improving team that played LSU and Florida tough last year.

Georgia fans are all too familiar with the stumbling block that Kentucky represents, too. This year, the Wildcats will provide Georgia with one of its toughest tests against the run and the game has "trap" written all over it with Florida waiting one week later. Georgia is really just a few plays away from riding a four-game losing streak to the Wildcats (seriously, how crazy is that?) and the task won't get any easier this time around.

7.) Georgia will lose three games… but will beat the Gators.


I think Georgia loses to either Mississippi State or Kentucky this year, and I think the Auburn game will be a tough one for them to pull out. Somewhere on the schedule, there's a good chance another loss will crop up, too… but I'm going out on a limb and saying it won't be to Florida.

While the outcome the past two years has been horrendous, that's been far more about a 9-0 edge in the turnover ratio for Florida than it has been about the Bulldogs being significantly outplayed. In fact, in both games, Georgia had its moments, but each time they fell behind early and were forced to abandon their game plan midway through the third quarter.

The truth is, I have little to support my prediction here other than a gut feeling, but at some point, after all these years, doesn't Georgia have to have the ball bounce its way for a change?

(And remember, UGA won in 2004, then lost '05 and '06. They won again in 2007, then lost '08 and '09. I'm sensing a pattern there that says 2010 is a win.)

8.) The Dawgs will play Wisconsin in the Cap One Bowl.

It wouldn't surprise me if Georgia won the East -- particularly if they end up with the tie-breaker over Florida -- but even if they do, it'd be tough to earn a BCS game with three losses, so they'd need to win the SEC title to make the Sugar Bowl. But after last year's disappointments and all the questions entering this year, I'm thinking the Cap One would actually be a nice step forward and would help set the tone for 2011.

9.) A.J. Green's departure won't be a completely forgone conclusion.

Don't get me wrong, I think there's virtually no way that Green sticks around. But I'll also be surprised if he doesn't play it coy for most of the year, and with the NFL's potential labor problems added to the mix, there will at least be some minor air of mystery surrounding Green's decision. And regardless of how it all plays out, I'm going to predict Green leaves with his name atop a lot of Georgia receiving records after this season. How about a line of 84 catches, 1,280 yards and 12 touchdowns?

10.) Georgia will have three players taken in the first round of next year's NFL draft.

Green is a given. Clint Boling is likely to end up there, too. As for the third? That's a wild card for right now, but I could definitely see Brandon Boykin, Cordy Glenn or Justin Houston playing themselves into the mix, should any decide to leave early. My money says at least one will.

11.) Mark Richt won't be "on the hot seat" next offseason.

I'm thinking this season will be a lot like the finale of "Lost" -- good but not great, and a lot of questions won't be answered, but on a purely emotional level, there will be a lot to feel good about. There will still be some anonymous posters grumbling incoherently about the program's decline, but the groundwork laid by the new defensive coaches and the development of Aaron Murray by year's end should leave most fans with a lot more hope than frustration.

And while a lot of people look at the hiring of a new AD as a reason for Richt to be concerned, I don't see it that way. Firing a coach as successful as Richt would be an extremely bold move for a brand new AD in his first year of work, and he'd essentially be lighting a torch under his own seat if he didn't bring in a big name afterward. Given the current economic conditions and the lack of any clear quality candidate, I can't imagine any AD in his first year would be excited by that possibility.

Of course, by the time all this actually plays out, I'll be shoveling snow out of my driveway in Philly and wondering why I thought leaving the South was such a good idea to begin with. But feel free to track me down (My new Phillies blog will be HERE) and remind me about how smart or stupid I was with these predictions.

OK, back in a few more days with a final handful of posts before the move.

31 comments:

BZ said...

don't forget colorado and florida have the week off before we play them. colorado will be a tough test early and thats all Georgia needs is for florida to have a week to prepare for us. I know, it didn't help us last year with the week off, but we shot ourselves in the foot multiple times to lose that game. just a thought

meansonny said...

Fair assessment David. On paper (or Vegas), I think we're a 10-2 team and underdogs at S.Car and Florida. But paper doesn't hold any weight as the season goes along.

The flies in the ointment are obviously injuries. Murray, Green, and Ealey can't be considered ironmen at this point of their careers. And for as many starts as our OL have, if you tweak one small aspect to their lineup, one has to say that they underperform.

Jumping out early is going to be very important for the Dawgs. I like our pass rush in the 4th quarter. But I fear what our 3-4 scheme may look like with little depth at OLB (tired legs) against a solid ground game in the 4th quarter.

Big Phil said...

Hey David,

I know that you are a Cubs fan and I assume that you have been to Wrigley at least once.

I am traveling out to Chicago starting this Thursday and will be going to a game on Friday, a 1pm game I believe.

Do you have any suggestions about what I should do while I'm in Wrigley to get the most out of my experience there? Something I should eat, something I should see, etc?

Thank you for all you have done for us, we UGA fans are all appreciative of your dedication to your work covering UGA sports!

The Georgia Sports Report said...

http://gasportreport.blogspot.com/

Doug said...

I have the same gut feeling about the Florida game. I can't explain it, but I think this is the year of the Dawg.

Kathleen said...

After last year's trip to Jacksonville (so stinking HOT!...) I resolved to pass this year, but the closer it gets, the more I think I might want to be there to see the win.

I think we'll take care of the east and have one flukey loss to a west team: Auburn or Arkansas.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen,

Let me double-check this, just so I get it right what you just said please, ok ?

(1) We play 1 ranked team all season long # 5 Florida.

(2) We BEAT Florida, you say with our 2-7 record against Florida in the COACH RICHT ERA 2-7.

(3) 10-10 vs SEC East teams over the last 4 years now since DJ Shockley graduated after the 2005 season, and we are going UNDEFEATED against The SEC East.

(4) Coach Richt has NEVER EVER beat both the vols and Florida ANY SEASON and this is his 10th season here at UGA now this up-coming season.

(5) But, Coach Richt is BEATING BOTH THIS YEAR.

(6) 38-14 the last 4 years, good for # 19 in the nation in won / loss record, and Kathleen allows that we lose 1 game all season long to either Auburn or Arkansas only. It is a 14-game season, and 1 Loss is 13-1.

(7) We have an oft-injured QB Aaron Murray with 3 injuries the last 2 years and Caleb King recruited here in 2007 who has not had a good game against a good defense and has been a no show in every big game we have played since he was recruited as the # 1 football player in the state of Georgia and we are going 13-1 according to you.

DISNEYdawgs.com Suggest Kathleen that I take it all back - please do NOT write about football or UGA Sports; just stick to your usual posts of having hissy fits at an Anonymous poster like you did all day yesterday again and again, not 1 of which was a post by me.

Kathleen said...

Anonymous,

You're way obsessed now.

I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I posted exactly one reply to the insults on the 11th, so it wasn't "hissy fits all day again and again".

And I'm just going to point out that Hale and "Doug" said the exact same thing I did, but once again you're picking on the girl.

It seems someone graduated from the Mel Gibson School of How to Talk to Women....

And yes, I did say all that, carve it into your wall of things to avenge: I do think Georgia will beat EVERY SEC EAST team they play this year.

Kathleen said...

Except... I didn't say anything about 13-1. I was talking about SEC teams. I didn't mention non-conference stuff.

If we're making rules here about people not being "allowed" to do stuff they're no good at, you should quit the extrapolating.

There are folks on this board who have said you sit in your own poo in your mother's basement, who have called you crazy and a disgrace and you say NOTHING about it. But this is what you pounce on. I felt kind of bad when I read some of the harsh stuff about you (like the feces) but I realize that if it's coming from a man, you'll take it.

(literally?)

JRL said...

Good grief Anon 6:15.

Kathleen certainly doesn't need me watching her back but you are beyond the pale.

You have indicated in the past that you come here to engage and discuss UGA football. I have never seen you discuss anything. I have seen your relentless bashing of CMR. What is it with your obsession about CMR – did he run over your puppy? I have also seen you fill half a page with numbers and statistics that bring nothing to the discussion.

This particular thread is a perfect example of your shallow imbecilic thought process. Rather than answer - discuss - or comment on any of the topics Hale presented you go off on one of the thread participants.

I don't get it. Are you seeking attention? Are you hoping for respect? Are you trying to impress the group?

You are very good at stirring emotion and generating comments - comments that are far from flattering. This will be my last time commenting on your incessant drivel – from this point forward you will be ignored.

For the record your sentence structure still needs improvement.

Todd said...

Anon, get off Facebook and go make some real friends for once. Just sad.

Ive Got An Itch said...

Hey Anonymous Stat Guy, are you sure those facts you state are correct? I've never seen them before. Naw, just giving you a hard time. Of course I've seen them before, right here in the comment section of Hale's blog about 100 times. Hey folks, let's stop calling him anonymous, but rather "One Trick Pony" since he can't come up with anything other than the same garbage he's been spewing for the past few months.

Anonymous said...

Itch - He used to post at other blogs under the name "Thomas Brown". He is worthless and best if ignored.

Sam said...

I still like the name "Feces Guy"

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the laughs!

You are right, I will also ignore from now on.

Rupert said...

Feces Guy is actually a paid guerrilla poster trying to drive readers away from his employer's competition.

Tell me I'm wrong!

Kathleen said...

Here's some fun news: Brandon Wood set the all-time squat record for UGA this afternoon: 715 pounds!

Sam said...

That's insane! Where did you find that nugget?

Kathleen said...

Facebook... where all the news is, of course! It's actually been something he has written about all summer - getting ready, working hard, setting the time for the try, then getting the record.

It may not seem like a weight record would translate directly into anything on field but the attitude that took him that far certainly will!!!

Gary said...

guess I'm going to need a new blog to read. Have enjoyed your blog. Good Luck to you and the new Wife.any recommendations on a new blog?

Anonymous said...

What a joke. Beat EVERY SEC East team. Ha ha ha. Lose only 1 game to Arkansas or to Auburn.

Ha ha ha.

Did you also think to yourself while stating we lose 1 game, that we are going to LOSE to Georgia tek ?

David Hale has not been here in a month, and again is not discussing the news of the day. I do. All you do is FLAME me, which I see once again you ADMIT doing even when the post you now know was not 1 by me.

Branden Smith. So what happens to Branden Smith. He is in the Chevrolet Avalanche where there were a grand total of 12 charges against the 7 in the vehicle. Branden Smith had his driver’s license suspended because of all the 7 in the vehicle, only Branden Smith could have purchased the alcohol. This is because Branden Smith had 21 year old plus 8 more months past the legal age Vance Ervin Cuff’s Driver’s License on his person. Branden Smith is part of this TROUBLED 2009 Recruiting Class of Coach Richt.

Branden Smith SERVED WITH A DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION at the scene because he had 21 years 8 months old VANCE ERVIN CUFF’s Driver’s License on his person.

VANCE ERVIN CUFF essentially PURCHASED the alcohol for the 7, 6 of whom were arrested at the scene for underage drinking.

Branden Smith actually purchased the alcohol, and he used VANCE ERVIN CUFF’s Driver’s License to do so.

Dontavius Jackson was driving because TAVARRES KING asked him to drive TAVARRES KING’S Chevrolet Avalanche. It is Tavarres King’s vehicle. Duped and conned into driving by Tavarres King, who is obviously SMARTER than Dontavius Jackson.

Whatever suspension from football games therefore Dontavius Jackson receives from Coach Richt, ALSO MUST APPLY to TAVARRES KING.

And, we have NOT heard the last of this Branden Smith and NOT heard the last of this VANCE ERVIN CUFF.

CUFF is a senior and he provided his license to Branden Smith, which caused ALL THESE ARRESTS and suspended license notices.

Who is responsible for this incident besides the fact that the TROUBLED 2009 Recruiting Class of Coach Richt and of Rodney Garner are once-again in the news ?

(1) VANCE CUFF for providing his valid DL to buy alcohol.
(2) TAVARRES KING for providing his vehicle go get drunk in
(3) BRANDEN SMITH for actually purchasing the alcohol

In that order.

There are a LOT MORE SUSPENSIONS coming from this 1.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous allow me to share a bit of information with you. I recommend you pay particular attention to several aspects of the law as it relates to your having irrefutable proof of your allegations. We have prosecuted and won more than a few internet sniper slander cases. You are walking on very thin ice.

You may also be under the false impression that you have complete anonymity on the internet - once again you are terribly misinformed.

Defamation Generally
The reason for having defamation laws as a civil remedy in tort is because 'A person has the right to his good name'. Defenses are nevertheless available for balancing the interest of freedom of speech, such as the defense of fair comment and justification.

What is defamatory?
A statement is defamatory if it tends to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right thinking members of society generally. Alternatively speaking, the matter tends to make the plaintiff shunned or avoided by right-thinking members of society. The meaning of the defamatory nature of the statement can be literal or by inference

Libel and Slander distinguished
A distinction has to be drawn between libel and slander. Libel: are publications in permanent form while slander are publications by spoken word or other transient means. Unlike slander, damage is presumed in libel actionable without proof of special damage.

Meaning of 'Permanent form"
Permanent form can be something in writing or in other permanent form. Examples are electronic communications via e-mail, newsgroups, message board, homepages are matters of permanent form. Broadcast by radio, TV, Internet, public performance, film soundtrack, CD, tape-recording also meet the requirement of 'permanent form'.

Requirement of Publication
The statement must be published by communicating to at least one person other than the person defamed.

Examples on the Internet are:
Usenet posting / e-mail to a third party, such as by cc. copy / message board / chat room /world wide web /

Defenses
Fair comment / justification / absolute privilege / qualified privilege / apology and payment into court / unintentional defamation / innocent dissemination /

Not THE Anonymous Guy said...

will we ever see the return of Mr. Hale? Even if just for a few short days? or even a farewell post?

Also, will the new beat writer for the Telegraph have a blog (continue this one maybe?)

My last 2 weeks at work have been agony without you here to entertain me, David. Best of luck at the new gig. Maybe you could be a guest writer a couple of times after the Phillies don't make the playoffs. Go Braves. Go McCann. Go America

David Hale said...

I'm in agony too... at the Singapore Airport. Unbelievable story I don't have the patience to tell right now.

In any case, I'll have a few more posts before my departure.

And yes... the new writer will have a blog... in fact, he'll be taking over THIS blog on Aug. 2. I'll have more details soon.

Carter said...

I read Ching's version of this blog before Dave took it over two years ago.

I am thankful that Anonymous Asshat, aka The Artist Formerly Known as "Thomas Brown", didn't start molesting this blog until just recently.

Good luck in Singapore, Dave, and try not to get caned.

Anonymous said...

Florida has the week off again to prepare for the Georgia game. This started regularly under Spurrier and is continuing. Florida has a very high winning percentage when getting the week off before the Georgia game. At some point "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice" comes into play and it becomes Georgia fault. Bendover Dawgs it's your own fault again!

Anonymous said...

addendum

Spurrier and the gamecocks have schedule an "extra" practice day against Georgia this year too!
When this happens to Nick Saban, he gets the schedule changed. Isn't anybody paying attention to this at Georgia? Whose in charge of this? ......Oh yeah...Mark Richt!

Anonymous said...

Were Helen Hunt and Mark Richt separated at birth?

NCDawg said...

It's official, Richt is NOT on the hot seat.

John S. said...

David..in 05 Shockley led us to an SEC title and the sugar bowl...I wouldn't call that a loss for us

Anonymous said...

John S, I think David is noting that we LOST to Florida in 2005, not that the season was a loss. He is showing that we are due for a win against Florida, that's all.